The Florida Gators have kicked off conference play with an eerily familiar feeling they had from last season. Now 8-5, they have lost to in-state rival Florida State in 21-point beat down, and their two biggest non-conference games against Oklahoma, and Michigan State.
Last night’s game against a struggling South Carolina team (6-7) looked to be the game that would spark confidence in an offense that had seem to find some what a groove in the two games prior. Not only was it the same struggling offense, but the Gators took a 71-69 defeat with a last second dunk by Chris Silva after being up late in the game.
A recurring theme of failing to sustain offense throughout an entire game against better competition peaks its head out once again for Mike White’s team. The volume scoring duo of KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson, who have been slumping most of the season, and combine for only 18 points.
Allen is only averaging 10.3ppg, on 42% shooting from the field, and 32% from deep. Hudson after coming off a strong season (15ppg) is only averaging 6.7ppg, on 31% shooting from the floor, and a terrible 24% from the three.
These numbers are the sole reason the Gators have five losses. Mike White was heading into the season with a fairly young team, led by these senior scorers that could lead the way, with the scrappy defense that White has implemented.
White has been forced to start running the offense through Andrew Nembhard, and Noah Locke, two highly rated freshman, that were looked to be pieces to the offense, not the driving forces. Locke has taken advantage of the increased workload by averaging 10ppg, on 39% shooting from the floor, and an impressive 42% from deep.
Locke finished the game against South Carolina, with the most shot attempts by anyone on the team with 16 attempts. This shows how much confidence he has in Allen who has shown to be able to hit big time shots in the past.
Nembhard has shown his all-around floor general capabilities by averaging 7.5ppg, 2.5rpg, and 5.5apg, on 39% shooting from the floor, and a respectable 37% from deep. The two young guards will form a very formidable tandem for as long as they are together in this scheme.
Unfortunately, we are talking about the future, as for right now the Gators will continue to struggle in a tough SEC Conference as long as their two senior guards continue to struggle, from what seems like all over the floor on offense.
The season is far from over, but Arkansas’s offensive attack is far more for lethal than the defensive philosophy that South Carolina brought to the table. The defense will be there, waiting for the senior leadership to step-up is the only step this Gators team is waiting on this season.
Until then, another loss could be on the horizon.